The NEWROPE Chair of Architecture and Urban Transformation is part of the department of Architecture of ETH Zürich and deals with the field of spatial design and social innovation, focusing both on innovative solutions and processes.
The NEWROPE Chair wants to engage in rediscovering Europe as inhabitable ground, and a shared space for all, in a world that is constantly changing. The rediscovering of this territory, both as a shared history and a common future, is what we call NEWROPE. It comes with an exploration of the large diversity of urban practices that inhabit and shape Europe.
The NEWROPE Chair applies and investigates the idea of Design in Dialogue, or the belief that the complexities of our time can only be tackled collectively, by developing transdisciplinary ideas and projects, linking spatial and strategic knowledge to other disciplines and urban practitioners, with a radical openness to learn from others.
The NEWROPE Chair provides education, conducts research and offers a mix of facilities and initiatives, including:
The physical space of the chair in Oerlikon, a neigborhood of Zürich where some of the Department of Architecture D-ARCH of ETH Zürich are sharing space in the so-called ONA building. As a versatile work and dialogue setting, it offers a variety of configurations that allow us to come together, test new ideas and practices and to reflect, share and relax. Combining theatrical elements with tools for coproduction, the Lab offers the conditions for a variety of work sessions, informal gatherings, small presentations and public events. The Lab was developed in collaboration with Alice Babini (51N4E), Myriana Karamousli (ETH), Stefan Reiser, OK-RM & Chevalier Masson.
The programme of educational activities for students. The studio is getting involved in real-life situations and investigates new urban practices, based on the idea of Design in Dialogue. The studio is a reality check for existing practices and a laboratory for new ones. While participating in design studios, every student will explore moments of urban transformation and confront the inherent instability of these situations by engaging with a multiplicity of stakeholders and perspectives in cities across Europe.
The chair’s investigation of urban transformation as the result of transecting trajectories of collective learning. By engaging directly with transformation processes, we want to reveal the ever-changing configuration of collective actions and conflicts and show ways to create new cultures of collaboration. We call this approach Performative Action Research, as a process of collective questioning and creative action and as a way to understand the necessary conditions for sharing and learning in the future.
A series of further learning events for all people involved in urban transformation, professionally or otherwise. They can use the ETH and the Design in Dialogue Lab as a reflective space for their own practice; a place to learn about new expectations, to meet other professionals, explore new potentials and references, reflect on their own position, develop new knowledge, invent opportunities, and innovate through networking. The School actively arranges exchanges between practitioners from different fields and cities.
All activities, such as public events and publications, and other expressions of the chair that aim to challenge and change architecture from a technocratic profession to a more open, inclusive and collaborative field of players and possibilities. The ecological and societal challenges we face demand that we both rethink and redesign our environments and learn new ways to collectively inhabit them. Treating the urgencies of our time as a cultural question allows us to open up to new voices, expressions and ways of being in the world.
Please contact us if you have ideas for a possible collaboration or have further questions regarding our work.
Within the Department of Architecture at ETH Zurich, the NEWROPE Chair is participating in the Institute of Landscape and Urban Studies (LUS) and the Network City and Landscape (NSL) and supports the Parity Group.
- Seppe De BlustLead Action Research
Seppe De Blust is sociologist and urban designer. After working in between politics and policy, he co-founded endeavour, an Antwerp based office for socio-spatial research. Seppe conducted his PhD research in Architecture at the KU Leuven with a strong focus on the position of critical spatial practitioners in processes of urban transformation. At the NEWROPE chair Seppe leads the action research on reflexive pedagogies, collective learning in action and intervention driven design.
- Lukas FinkStudio Lead
Lukas Fink is an architect based in Zurich. He graduated with distinction from ETH Zürich with the speculative design project „The Beauty of the Cadastral Map“, which explores the forming power of the plot line and respectively of private property. Before joining Newrope in 2019, he worked in different offices and own collaborations in Zurich, Berlin and Brussels. His practice tries to bridge different scales and media and has a strong focus on the social and urban dimension of architecture.
- Falma FshaziLead School of Transformation
Falma Fshazi holds a PhD in History and Civilisations from Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Paris and is Maître de Conference in Social Sciences. She has been working in research and teaching in departments of history, political science and anthropology in Istanbul and Paris. Her career has extended to administration through the position of Director of Communication and Research in the Albanian Prime Minister Office and into collaboration with artists as the co-founder of the Center for Openness and Dialogue. Her themes of research have been: city and citizenship activism; urban youth representations; cultural policies and institutionalisation. She is interested in politics, culture, institutional framework, representation and transformation of the built environment and in exploring transdisciplinarity through architecture.
- Evelyne GordonAdministration
Evelyne Gordon is in charge of all administrative tasks at the professorship. She oversees the chair’s finances, human resource planning and general administrative matters.Prior to joining the ETH in 2007, Evelyne worked in various positions in the field of marketing/communication in the business aviation and travel industry, both in Switzerland and Canada. She joined the NEWROPE chair in 2019.
- Michiel van lerselProgram Lead
Michiel works as an urbanist and curator working at the intersection space, culture and ecology and is Program Lead of the NEWROPE chair. He is focused on shaping and sharing the chair’s efforts to help create an architectural culture and design discours that are more responsive to the urgencies of our time. He is co-founder of Amsterdam-based cultural collective Non-fiction and research platform Failed Architecture and was a 2018-19 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design. He is one of the editors of Rewriting Architecture, a publication that provides 10+1 actions for a more adaptive architecture and which appeared in the fall of 2020.
- Freek PersynProfessor
Freek Persyn is born in 1974 in Belgium and lives and works in Brussels. He is married to Sotiria Kornaropoulou and father of three children: Polly, Kimon and Zoé. In 1998, he co-founded the office 51N4E, a spatial design practice focused on urban and social transformation. 51N4E works on a wide range of scales, from strategy to realization, and designs the built environment with an affinity for both the physical and the invisible dimensions of space. The work of 51N4E received the most attention for its adaptive reuse projects in Central Europe and for its intense engagement with Albania. Since 2019, Freek Persyn combines his partnership at 51N4E with the professorship of Architecture and Urban Transformation at the ETH Zürich.
- Charlotte SchaebenStudio Lead
Charlotte Schaeben studied Architecture at ETH Zurich and UPC Barcelona. In her self-defined Master thesis, she portrayed the Zone Franche (Free Economic Zone) of the Pays de Gex and developed a concept for the cross-border metropolitan region of Geneva based on the integrative potential of open spaces. She has a specific interest in photography and mapping, the cognitive response to spatial environments, and a cross-scale approach to situate architectural projects within their historically grown context of regional, cross-border and societal development. She joined the chair in summer 2019.
- Ina ValkanovaDoctoral Fellow
Ina Valkanova is a doctoral fellow of the I-LUS program. Her research explores the possibilities for collaborative transformation of contemporary industrial landscapes. From 2017 until 20019 she was the coordinator for investment and innovation of the long-term development strategy of the city of Sofia, Bulgaria – Vision for Sofia. She studied and worked in Germany, Portugal and Spain.
Former Team Members: Ben Pohl
Student Assistants: Joel Berger, Moritz Köhler, Meghan Rolvien
The Design in Dialogue Lab is based at the ETH ONA building in Oerlikon, in the northern part of the city of Zürich. The ONA building is home to parts of the Department of Architecture D-ARCH at ETH Zürich. Find more information about the department and directions to the building via the website of ETH. If you want to visit, please let us know. You are more than welcome to visit us.
NEWROPE wants to use the wisdom of many, not only the intelligence of a few. Please contact us if you have ideas for a possible collaboration or have further questions regarding the studio, our research or programme
For applications please visit